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February 18, 2011

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Workers paid overdue wages

ALTOGETHER 69 former employees of a medical appliance company, which has significant investment from Britain, received more than 460,000 yuan (US$69,909) in overdue salaries from Putuo District judges yesterday.

The Putuo District People's Court also urged Lawrence Sammeroff, owner of the company who disappeared from China last July, to return to the country to deal with the debt problems.

Shanghai Renfeng Medical Supplies Co Ltd also owed more than 5 million yuan to suppliers.

"The British investor shouldn't ignore the interests of Chinese employees and companies," said Sun Chao, a judge at the court.

Renfeng was formed by Britain-based Frank Sammeroff Ltd in 2004 and mainly produced band-aids and domestic first-aid kits. Sammeroff was also chairman of the British -parent company.

Sammeroff left China last July and has not returned since then.

The Shanghai company was -unable pay salaries to employees and owed millions of yuan to suppliers by last September.

News came out a month later that the British company had started bankruptcy proceedings. Renfeng stopped operations immediately and all of the 69 Chinese employees became -unemployed. Some suppliers attempted to claim the company's properties and stocked products as compensation for monies owed.

The employees asked the court to order the company to pay the salaries last November and over 10 suppliers petitioned the court for payment.

Former financial staff at Renfeng said the Shanghai company was performing well. Most of its products were exported to its British parent company, but the parent company always delayed payment - so far, the British company still owes 6 million yuan to Renfeng.

"If the 6 million yuan is returned, all the debts can be paid," Sun said.

Judges withdrew some remaining money from Renfeng's account and asked the city's labor department to appropriate some money from its -insurance fund for delayed salaries to pay all the employees.

Meanwhile, the court published a proclamation urging Sammeroff to return to China to resolve the situation.


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